Protection through Policing: The Protective Role of UN Police in Peace Operations

On February 13th, IPI together with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN hosted a policy forum event on Protection through Policing: The Protective Role of UN Police in Peace Operations.

The form and function of UN police (UNPOL) have evolved significantly since they were deployed to the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) in 1960. Originally sent to observe and monitor peace processes, they have increasingly moved into development roles while providing operational support to, and at times temporarily substituting for, host-state police.

Over the last twenty years, UN police have also been expected to contribute to implementing peace operations’ protection of civilians (POC) mandates. Protection of civilians has been defined by the UN Secretariat as a whole-of-mission, multidimensional endeavor, and therefore requires the coordinated contributions of military, police, and civilians components. As UNPOL are thrust onto the front lines of efforts to protect civilians in places like the Central African Republic, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and South Sudan, they are able to provide unique capabilities and expertise ingrained in their inherent function “to serve and protect.” However, while police are making significant contributions to POC efforts, missions have generally undervalued and overlooked their protective role, and have often relied on militarized approaches to POC. UN police can also do more to leverage their comparative advantages and strengthen their contributions to POC.

This policy forum marked the launch of a new IPI policy paper by Dr. Charles Hunt. The paper examines the role of UN police in protecting civilians and identifies their contributions and comparative advantages, as well as the challenges they face. This event provided an opportunity to discuss the report and to explore best practices and options for member states, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and peace operations that could enhance the contribution of policing activities to the protection of local populations.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN

Dr. Charles Hunt, Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, UN University
Mr. Shaowen Yang, Deputy Police Adviser, Police Division, OROLSI, UN Department of Peace Operations
Ms. Rania Dagash, Head of the Policy and Best Practices Service, Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training, UN Department of Peace Operations
Mr. Boniface Rutikanga, Police Advisor, Permanent Mission of Rwanda the UN

Dr. Namie Di Razza, IPI Senior Fellow, Center for Peace Operations